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Freshney Green Primary Care Centre
Sorrel Road, Grimsby, 01472 246100


» Patient Information » Common Ailments & Conditions Advice

Common Ailments/Conditions Advice

The following is a list of simple advice for common illnesses and accidents which can often be treated without the need to consult a doctor


First a note on these commonly prescribed and powerful medicines. They only work on bacteria and are ineffective on viruses. Unfortunately, this means that the common infections like coughs, colds and flu etc, will not be helped by them at all. The correct treatments are the remedies outlined below, so we only use antibiotics when there is a secondary bacterial infection. Overuse of antibiotics may lead to them not working in the future and more complications like thrush, skin rashes etc.

Emergency Contraception

The practice offers two types of emergency contraception: the emergency contraception pill which is effective up to 72 hours following unprotected sex or the copper intra-uterine device or coil which may be fitted up to 5 days after unprotected sex. Please ask your Doctor or Nurse for advice and information.

Back pain

Back pain causes 13 million working days to be lost in Britain each year. The spine is made up of 24 fragile bones and, along with associated cartilage and tendons, supports the whole weight of the upper body. Therefore, it is understandable that it sometimes goes wrong.

Because of the complex nature of the spine it is advisable to consult your doctor if back pain persists for more than a few days. If, as usual, the pain is caused by abuse ie by lifting too heavy weights etc, be sensible and take things easy. Take care to sit as upright as possible with a support for the small of the back. Take aspirin or paracetamol which will not only relieve the pain, but will help relieve inflammation. Your doctor may prescribe stronger drugs or gentle exercise. Back pain can usually be avoided by adopting the correct posture to lift, taking regular exercise and by losing weight..

Burns and Scalds

  • Cool immediately by holding under cold water for at least 10 minutes. If water is not available, any cold, harmless liquid, such as milk or canned drinks, can be used - do not waste time removing clothes.
  • Gently remove any constricting clothing or jewellery before the injured area begins to swell. DO NOT remove clothing if it has stuck to the burn.
  • DO NOT apply creams or oils, or pop blisters.
  • Severe burns (large and/or deep) and all burns to infants should be checked by a doctor.

Colds and Flus

There is no cure for the common cold or flu. Antibiotics are of no value. If you have a cold, drink plenty of fluids and take aspirin (over 16 years of age) or paracetamol if you have a headache, are aching or are running a temperature, but remember NOT on an empty stomach. Products to relieve the symptoms of your cold and flu, such as decongestants etc, often cost less than prescription charges and are available from the chemist. You should be on the mend after seven to ten days and are usually better by two week. If you are getting worse instead of better by then you will need to be seen. Flu vaccine is available October to December for 'at risk' groups and patients aged 65 and over, please call the surgery on 01472 246100 to confirm the vaccines have arrived. 


Treat as for other burns (with cold water) to remove the heat. Calamine or after-sun lotion will relieve the irritation, whilst paracetamol will also help. Babies and children are particularly susceptible to sunburn and great care should be taken to avoid overexposure to the harmful effects of the sun. Particular care should be taken when holidaying abroad, but it is also possible to become quite badly sunburned in your own back garden. Sunburn can be prevented by the use of protective sun lotions, available from chemists. Remember to wear a hat in the sun, particularly for young children.

Insect bites and stings

Cool the bitten part as soon as possible (with ice if you can) to reduce the inflammation, and repeat this as often as you need. Bee stings should be scraped away rather than plucked in order to avoid squeezing the contents of the venom sac into the wound. Antihistamine tablets are available from chemists cheaply without prescription and will relieve itching an local swelling. Take them regularly for two or three days, observing the chemists instructions for their use.

Head Lice

Head Lice can affect everyone! Head lice are nothing to do with clean or dirty hair. They are caught by head to head contact with another person (not only children) who already has head lice. Routine use of head lice lotions and shampoos is no longer recommended due to concerns about their possible harmful effects, and head lice are developing resistance to the medication. A safe and effective treatment is the wet combing method. Please ask at reception or speak to the Health Visitor for our 'Bug Busting' leaflet.


These look like pieces of white cotton threads in motions. They are not important and rarely cause problems but some children may complain of an itchy bottom. The best treatment to avoid infecting other members of the family is by very careful hand washing after using the lavatory, and keeping finger nails short and well-scrubbed; this will avoid the risk of re-infection. Further treatment involved the whole family taking medicine, available from the chemist, to kill the worms and purge the bowel (this often causes diarrhoea in those who may have no problems from the worms). The best advice is to pay careful attention to hygiene at all times and only treat with medicine if the worms actually cause symptoms. Most cases will clear up in seven to fourteen days with careful hygiene only.


If you have toothache you should consult your dentist. Doctors are not trained in the management of dental problems. You should ask your dentist how to contact him in an emergency. If you have any problems after you have had dental treatment you should contact your dentist who will be able to give you expert advice and treatment. If, when he has seen you, he thinks you have a medical problem, he will advise you to see a doctor.


Rashes not related to illness, or appearing within a few days of taking medicines (prescribed or not) are unlikely to be important. If the rash follows taking a course of medicine, you should stop it at once and contact the Surgery for advice. If it is very itchy, it is likely to be due to an allergy. Antihistamines (available without prescription from your chemist) may make you feel more comfortable.

Sickness and Diarrhoea

Sickness and diarrhoea are commonly due to viruses and so antibiotics have no part in the treatment of this condition. The condition usually settles in one to three days and we recommend avoiding all food for 24 hours, giving plenty of clear fluid frequently and in small amounts. Avoid milk, dairy produce and fatty/spicy foods when you start eating again. Instead try dry bread, toast, thin soups, potato, chicken etc. Diarrhoea in very young children and babies needs careful attention. Most babies have loose bowel actions during their first six months, due to their predominantly liquid diet. Sudden bouts of unusually watery diarrhoea should be treated by taking the baby off solids and feeding it cooled boiled water only. If the symptoms persist for more than 24 hours, or are accompanied by vomiting or weakness, consult your doctor.

Sore Throats

Most are caused by viral infections which do not respond to antibiotics. With simple treatment the patient normally gets better in seven to ten days. You should suck soothing throat pastilles and take frequent drinks. Rest your voice and avoid smoke. If over 16 years of age gargle with soluble aspirin or paracetamol. Most sore throats will settle with this treatment. If the symptoms persist you may need an appointment with your doctor.

Stomach ache

Most attacks are not serious and are usually caused by indigestion or wind. A hot water bottle will often relieve the symptoms and in the case of indigestion a teaspoonful of bicarbonate of soda in half a glass of water will help. If the pain lasts for longer than eight hours or increases in intensity you should consult a doctor.


Firstly apply a cold compress, containing ice if possible, for 15 to 30 minutes to reduce swelling. Apply a crepe bandage firmly and give the sprain plenty of rest until all discomfort has subsided. Further strain will inevitably lead to further swelling and a longer recovery period. Simple painkillers such as paracetamol may help

Nose Bleeds

Sit in a chair, leaning forward with your mouth open, and pinch your nose just below the bone for 15 minutes nonstop. This should stop the bleeding. Do not blow the nose. If symptoms persist, consult your doctor.

Minor cuts and grazes

Dirt often enters a cut or graze and it should be cleaned with soap and water or an antiseptic solution. To stop the bleeding, apply a clean handkerchief or dressing firmly to the wound for about five minutes. Leave grazes uncovered and keep them dry. Cover cuts with a clean dry dressing or plaster. If the cut is deep and the edges cannot be pulled together with a dressing it may need stitches, in which case contact the doctor or, if severe, attend the casualty department at the hospital.


On the first day, small red patches about 3-4 mm across. Shortly after, small blisters appear in the centre of these patches. During the next 3-4 days, further patches will appear and the earlier ones will turn crusty and fall off. Calamine lotion may be applied to soothe the often severe itching. Cool baths may help. The most infectious period is from 2-3 days before the rash appears and up to 5 days after that date. As soon as the last crust drops off, children may return to school.


Your baby should have been vaccinated with the MenC vaccine when he/she was two, three and four months old. This protects against infection by 'meningococcal group C' bacteria, which is a type of bacteria that can cause meningitis and septicaemia (blood poisoning.) The Men C vaccine does not protect against meningitis caused by other bacteria or viruses.

Both meningitis and septicaemia are very serious. It is important that the signs and symptoms are recognised and to know what to do if they are seen.

Early symptoms of meningitis, such as fever, being irritable and restless, vomiting and refusing feeds are also common with cold and flu. A baby with meningitis or septicaemia can become seriously ill within hours

In babies, look out for one or more of the following symptoms:

  • A high-pitched, moaning cry
  • Refusing feeds
  • Being difficult to wake
  • Pale or blotchy skin
  • Red or purple spots that do not fade under pressure. Check by pressing the side of a clear drinking glass firmly against the rash so that you can see if it fades and loses colour. If it does not change colour contact your doctor immediately. Septicaemia can be caused by a number of infections, but meningococcal infection is the one most likely to cause the red or purple spots.
  • Leg pain.

In older children, look out for the following symptoms:

  • A stiff neck (check that your child can kiss their knee or touch their forehead with their knee).
  • Sleepiness or confusion
  • A very bad headache
  • A dislike of bright lights
  • Red or purple spots that don not fade under pressure (see previous advice above).